Above is the mould for the legs after it was cleaned up. It's very important to clean the inner surface as any dirt or imperfections will show up on the castings later. I test fitted the armature back into the mould to make sure they still fit into place. I also made sure no parts were touching the edges where they shouldn't be. Its a good idea to practise putting the armature back into the mould, because when it comes time to cast you don't want to run into any problems.
In the picture above you can see I've stuck some Cotton material to the upper legs. This is to help the silicone stick. Also I painted a layer of acrylic paint over all the K&S parts that will come in contact with silicone. I've hear that brass can react with some silicons and discolour it. The paint will act as a shield, just in case.
The Silicone I'm using it very soft and flexible. This is important because I don't want the silicone to fight back against the wire when I bend the puppet.
I pigment the silicone to the desired colour so that I don't have the paint it after casting. Painting silicone is difficult as most paint can't stick to silicone. Also the paint would have to be flexible and resist constant handling. Pigmenting the silicone is an easier option. To do this I add a small amount of oil paints. I try not to add more that 5% of paint to the silicone so that I don't mess up the chemistry. Adding too much could stop it from curing.
In the picture above I have painted the first layer of silicone into each half of the mould using a brush. I added white to the shoes and flesh colour on the rest of the leg. By letting this first layer set it will stop air bubbles from appearing on the outer surface of the legs. Also it will prevent the armature from touching the edge of the mould.
Above it the chest section of the armature resting in it's mould. Again the armature has cloth and paint applied onto it. Also I have wrapped cling film (saran wrap) around the ball and socket joints to stop the silicone from clogging the joint.
When casting I paint the first layer of flesh coloured silicone into both halves of the mould and let it set. I then top up the halves filling them all the way. While the silicone is still runny I slot the armature into one half of the mould causing it to overflow. This is good as it helps to reduce air bubbles. Its better to have too much than too little.
The next step is to quickly sandwich the two halves together and squeeze them tight using clamps. In the pic above I've used two clamps to hold the mould together. They stay on until the silicone has cured.
When the silicone it set ( roughly 4-5 hours) I gently open the mould using a screw driver for leverage.
Above is the chest section after it was removed from the mould. As you can see it still has the thin film of excess silicone surrounding it. This is cut off with a small pair of scissors. The seam lines will need to be cleaned up in a process called 'Trimming and Seaming'.( more on that later )
The same process was used to cast all the puppets silicone parts. Above is the mould for the Mail Mans hands with the armatures resting in them.
Here are the cast hands after I separated the two halves of the mould.
Above are the hands in the early stages of trimming and seaming.
Here are the Actresses hands after being cast. They were cast in the silicones natural white colour because the Actress 'Elle' is wearing elbow length gloves.
Finally here's a shot of the newly cast legs standing in front of their mould. They've had a little bit of clean up done but I will explain more about 'Trimming and Seaming' in my next post. Also I'll show all the parts assembled including the Hair.
Thanks for reading.